Final, Pirates 7-4: Darnell McDonald continues to swing a hot stick, following up the home run he hit in his previous at-bat with a double to lead off the ninth. That was all the Sox could muster up, though, and the Pirates come away from a soggy JetBlue Park with a 7-4 win.
Clay Buchholz gave up two runs on three hits in three innings of work to begin the game. He wasn't exactly lights out, but he did look sharp at times, which is certainly encouraging for a pitcher who's still getting stronger after a nine-month absence.
Mid 9th, Pirates 7-4: Brandon Duckworth, who spent all of last season at Triple-A Pawtucket, kept the Pittsburgh offense at bay in the ninth.
Darnell McDonald, Oscar Tejada and Will Middlebrooks are due up against Tim Wood in the home half as the Sox look to mount a comeback.
End 8th, Pirates 7-4: Pittsburgh's "other McCutchen" — reliever Daniel McCutchen — tossed a scoreless eighth for the Bucs.
McCutchen struck out Jason Repko and got Alex Hassan — a Massachusetts native — to ground out. Dan Butler kept the inning alive with a base hit back up the middle, and eventually stole second. But McCutchen bounced back to strike out Nate Spears swinging.
Mid 8th, Pirates 7-4: Michael Bowden retired the Pirates in order in his first inning of work in the eighth.
He struck out Robbie Grossman to begin the inning, and then got Toby Sanchez to pop out to first base and Anderson Hernandez to ground out to second.
It's worth noting that some players have had trouble fielding pop ups in foul ground on the first-base side tonight. Not sure if it's the result of some swirling winds, but that area of the field has been problematic on a couple of occasions for both sides.
End 7th, Pirates 7-4: The Sox are chipping away.
Darnell McDonald, who entered the game in the top half of the inning, blasted a home run over everything in left field to trim Pittsburgh's lead to three. The next batter, Mike Aviles, chopped a ball to his counterpart at short in Chase d'Arnaud, but d'Arnaud's throw brought first baseman Jake Fox off the bag, allowing Aviles to reach.
Oscar Tejada came on to pinch run for Aviles, and he moved up to second after the Red Sox' No. 1 prospect, Will Middlebrooks, shot a base hit into right field.
Pedro Ciriaco, who came on as a pinch runner for Pedroia in the sixth, then lined a ball over the left fielder. It didn't result in a run, though, as Tejada was tagged out after rounding third and throwing on the brakes.
Juan Carlos Linares, pinch-hitting for David Ortiz, flew out to center to end the inning.
The Sox put another run on the board via the McDonald longball, but with the way they seemed to have Doug Slaten on the ropes in that frame, you can bet they had higher hopes.
Mid 7th, Pirates 7-3: A heavy dose of substitutions made by manager Bobby Valentine and Clint Hurdle as this game gets deeper, so if the Sox are going to come back, they'll do so with a whole new cast of characters.
The Pirates were able to move a runner to within 90 feet of home plate in the top half of the seventh, but Yamaico Navarro — a former member of the Red Sox — struck out swinging against Inman to end the inning.
Navarro, of course, was one of the two players the Sox sent to the Royals in exchange for Mike Aviles prior to last season's trade deadline. Kansas City subsequently shipped him to Pittsburgh this offseason.
End 6th, Pirates 7-3: With two outs and a runner on third, Cody Ross nearly popped out in foul ground to end the inning. The ball ended up dropping, however, giving Ross another chance to do some damage.
Ross then lined a base hit into left field, bringing in Boston's third run, and cutting Pittsburgh's lead to 7-3.
Mid 6th, Pirates 7-2: Will Inman took over for the Sox in the sixth. After Brandon Boggs reached with one out, Inman caught him leaning at first, showing off that pickoff move that's been a major emphasis for Sox pitchers this spring.
But unfortunately for the Sox, Jose Tabata struck again. Pittsburgh's leadoff hitter roped a double into left field, bringing home the Pirates' seventh run of the game.
End 5th, Pirates 6-2: Josh Kroeger hit a line shot with two outs that quickly got over the head of Brandon Boggs in left, resulting in a double for the Boston outfielder.
Mike Aviles then brought him around with an RBI single up the middle. Aviles eventually moved up to second after he took off and the Pirates' pickoff attempt wasn't executed cleanly, but Youkilis ended up striking out to end the inning — leaving Aviles at second.
Mid 5th, Pirates 6-1: Vicente Padilla's second inning of work didn't go quite as smoothly.
Eric Fryer reached on an infield hit. Youkilis charged the slow roller, but couldn't come up with the bare-hand attempt. That set the tone for the rest of the inning.
A hit-and-run put on by Clint Hurdle allowed Fryer to reach second despite a hot shot fielded cleanly by Lars Anderson at first. The next batter, Jose Tabata, made it count, doubling in Fryer to extend the Pirates' lead to 3-1.
Clint Barmes — in his third plate apperance — then lined a double down the left-field line past the dive of Youkilis, extending the Bucs' lead to 4-1.
Not to be outdone, McCutchen — who doubled home a run in his last at-bat — said, "Don't mind if I do." He lifted another double off the wall in left, bringing Barmes around to score, giving Pittsburgh some more breathing room in the form of a 5-1 lead.
Another base knock a batter later gave the Pirates their sixth run, and that's where we stand.
End 4th, Pirates 2-1: Tony Watson is the new Pittsburgh hurler, the third pitcher used by skipper Clint Hurdle this evening.
Pedroia, fresh off his nice defensive play in the top half of the frame, grounded out to third for the inning's first out.
David Ortiz wasn't so kind.
Big Papi lifted a blast over the fence in right. Ortiz joked a few games ago about wanting the right-field fence moved in after he flew out to the warning track. He made sure he got enough of this one, though, and the Sox have cut the lead in half.
Mid 4th, Pirates 2-0: Vicente Padilla came in after three innings from Buchholz. A bullpen role is one that Padilla previously stated he wasn't interested in, but Bobby V. clearly wants to see as much of his potential No. 5 starters as he can while in camp.
Kevin Youkilis' health is one of the most important — and more underrated — storylines heading into this season, but the veteran looked pretty slick down at the hot corner in the fourth.
Youkilis made a nice pick on the backhand before firing to first to retire Pedro Alvarez (a guy who is a fantasy player's nightmare, by the way).
Not to be outdone, Dustin Pedroia made a nice play going up the middle to retire Brandon Boggs and end the inning. The two gems came after Lars Anderson hauled in a pop up for out No. 1.
End 3rd, Pirates 2-0: Chris Resop relieved Shairon Martis in the third inning. Martis allowed two hits through two innings of work before giving way to the new right-hander.
Josh Kroeger greeted Resop with some good contact, but McCutchen was able to track it down routinely in center field. The same can be said for Aviles, batting for the second time as the team's leadoff hitter, as he too flew out to McCutchen.
Youkilis also lifted a fly ball to the outfield, his going right into the mitt of Jose Tabata. It's a 1-2-3 frame for Resop in his first inning of work.
Mid 3rd, Pirates 2-0: Andrew McCutchen just showed why the Bucs gave him that lucrative six-year deal, delivering a two-out, wall-ball double to extend the Pirates' lead.
McCutchen actually thought he got all of it, walking out of the batters' box after lifting the fly ball to left. It hit off JetBlue's version of the Green Monster, though, leaving the talented outfielder with a double. The two-bagger allowed Jordy Mercer to come around from second base for Pittsburgh's second run, and Buchholz's second spring start hasn't exactly gone as well as start No. 1.
End 2nd, Pirates 1-0: Bobby Valentine might have given a preview of what's to come this season in that inning, sending Cody Ross on two separate occasions.
Ross, who reached on an infield hit, took off for second and reached easily as Fryer wasn't able to handle the pitch cleanly behind the plate. Then, two batters later, he took off for third. However, that play yielded unfortunate results for the Sox, as Lars Anderson struck out in the process, leading to a strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play to end the frame.
Mid 2nd, Pirates 1-0: A much smoother inning for Buchholz in the second, as he sat down all three Pirates he faced in order.
Buchholz has had a bit of mound trouble in the early going as a result of the slick surface. We'll see how long he sticks around in this game, as it might not be wise to keep the righty out there too long in such conditions.
End 1st, Pirates 1-0: Mike Aviles was retired to start the frame, but Kevin Youkilis was able to reach after blooping a ball into right field that created a little bit of confusion for the Pirates.
Martis was able to bounce back, though, retiring Dustin Pedroia on a pop out in foul ground and then getting David Ortiz to ground into the shift for the inning's final out.
Mid 1st, Pirates 1-0: Tabata grounded out to third base this inning, with Kevin Youkilis fielding it routinely for the out.
Clint Barmes then made life a bit more difficult for Buchholz, though, working the count before lining a base hit into center field. Andrew McCutchen, fresh off inking a new six-year contract, followed with a base hit of his own, sending Barmes from first to third.
The Pirates then pushed across a run when Garrett Jones chopped a high bouncer to Pedroia at second. Pedey fielded it cleanly and tried to apply the tag on McCutchen before firing to first, but the speedy outfielder was able elude the tag.
7:15 p.m.: The rain continues to fall at JetBlue Park, but we're ready for the game's first pitch, nonetheless.
For everyone with TV access, you can catch the game live on NESN. So be sure to check that out, and follow along on here for some additional wisdom.
7:00 p.m.: It looks like we'll have a brief delay as the Sox and Pirates dodge the rain drops. The start time is expected to be around 7:15.
6:35 p.m.: Some ominous clouds have rolled in at JetBlue Park, which could threaten the start of this one, as the tarp has been rolled out onto the field. The forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms, but hopefully Mother Nature is bluffing and we'll be able to get this game in.
The forecast also calls for Clay Buchholz toeing the rubber for Boston. He looks to build off a strong spring debut, which came after a nine-month absence for the righty.
Here's a look at this evening's starting lineups, assuming we're able to get this one in.
Mike Aviles, SS
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Ryan Sweeney, RF
Cody Ross, CF
Kelly Shoppach, C
Lars Anderson, 1B
Josh Kroeger, LF
Clay Buchholz, P
Jose Tabata, RF
Clint Barmes, SS
Andrew McCutchen, CF
Garrett Jones, 1B
Nick Evans, DH
Pedro Alvarez, 3B
Brandon Boggs, LF
Eric Fryer, C
Jordy Mercer, 2B
Shairon Martis, P
10:30 a.m.: The Boston Red Sox look to rebound from their 9-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday when they take on the Pittsburgh Pirates at 7:05 at JetBlue Park.
Clay Buchholz takes the mound for his second spring training start of the year. Buchholz was solid in his first outing, pitching two scoreless innings giving up no hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts.
It was the first start for Buchholz since June, after he missed the rest of the season due to a stress fracture in his back.
First pitch is at 7:05, so make sure to come back here to receive updates throughout the day.
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